Budget Vote Speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to the National Assembly, Tuesday 13 May 2008

Madame Speaker
Honourable President Thabo Mbeki
Honourable Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee of Foreign Affairs
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Fellow South Africans

This year, 2008, marks the 90th birthday of that great icon, hero and leader of our people: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Nelson Mandela continues to inspire hope in millions of our people as they struggle for a better life for all.

In July the world will join us in celebrating a life that epitomises triumph of humanity over adversity and the victory of the human spirit over the apartheid system- a crime against humanity.Sithi halala Madiba! Ukhule ukhokhobe. Uyibekile induku ebandla! Usibuyisile isithunzi somuntu omnyama emhlabeni wonke jikelele!

We continue to be inspired by his inaugural Presidential address in 1994, following the first democratic elections that, “Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.”
With that understanding, President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation Address, under the theme “Business Unusual - All Hands on Deck - to speed up Change,” committed all of government to “use the short period ahead of us further to energise our advance towards the realisation of the all important goal of a better life for all our people,” including the need to “enhance our focus on key areas in terms of our system of international relations, with a particular focus on some African issues and South-South relations.”

Africa in responding to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century replaced the OAU with the AU, whose launch we had the honour to host. The AU in its five years of existence, has made lot of progress towards the political and economic integration of the continent:

  • The permanent home of the Pan-African Parliament will be completed in 2010 in our beautiful country. Our government and public representatives will have to start with consultations on the review of the protocol, with the major question being whether it will remain consultative or will have some legislative authority.
  • The AU has developed its own peace and security architecture- the Peace and Security Council- whose responsibility entails the resolution of conflicts, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction in conjunction with the UN
  • A common defence policy has been adopted which includes a Standby Force, with a nucleus of five brigades, one from each region. The SADC Brigade was launched in Lusaka in 2007.
  • The Human and Peoples Rights Court has been established with our Judge Bernard Ngoepe as one of the very first judges
  • The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Declaration on Gender Equality is being implemented
  • The Protocol on the Court of Justice is underway.
  • Financial institution will be developed in due course.

The socio-economic programme of the AU, NEPAD, was developed with President Mbeki as one of the architects of that process. South Africa has been instrumental in the development of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) – a unique system of self review by African peers – to ensure conformity and commitment to democracy, respect for human rights, socio-economic development and good governance.   Our country was indeed honoured to be among the first countries in the continent to undergo the process of the Peer Review Mechanism.

Recognising that we are responsible for own development, we launched the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) in July 2007 with a view to driving and sustaining Africa’s infrastructure development in the fields of transport, energy, water and sanitation, and telecommunications.

An audit of the AU’s institutions, human and financial resources has just been completed and will assist in strengthening and improving its efficiency.  The discussions on the African Union government are ongoing with the Committee of Heads of State and Government meeting in Arusha, Tanzania next week.

Later this month, on 25 May, our people, together with the rest of the continent, will join in the celebration of Africa Day. A series of events and activities have been lined-up by government, the private sector and civil society to celebrate Africa Day. Government has taken a decision that we have to popularise the AU anthem, the flag and other symbols.

South Africa, emerging from the era of apartheid and isolation had to establish bilateral relations and activate participation in international organisations.  At the same time, we had to establish trade and economic links, promote investments and tourism, co-operation in science and technology etc, hence our emphasis on economic diplomacy.

We now have diplomatic relations with more than 180 countries represented by 121 Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consul-Generals worldwide. By the end of the year we shall have 47 diplomatic missions on the African continent. 
South Africa has become a significant investor in the continent.  According to  the South African Reserve Bank’s March 2008 Quarterly Bulletin, as at December 2006, the total investment by South African businesses and individuals amounted to R80 billion.  Of the R80 billion, R59 billion represents Direct Investment, R5 billion represents Portfolio Investment and R16 billion representing other types of investments.

South Africa, understanding that there can be no development without peace and stability has spared no effort in conflict resolution and/or peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Comoros, Ethiopia, Eritrea, etc.

We continue to be involved in the post-conflict reconstruction and development of the DRC through the Binational Commission co-chaired by President Thabo Mbeki and President Joseph Kabila Kabanga.

Our country has also been privileged to lead the AU’s Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development of the Sudan.  Early this year, we visited Sudan to assess progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.  While there has been significant progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, important challenges remain including the failure to implement decisions of the Abiye Boundaries Commission, slow progress in the redeployment of security forces, the North-South border Demarcation as well as the establishment of electoral institutions for the national elections to be held in 2009.  We are concerned that failure to address these issues will impact on the outcome of the referendum scheduled for 2011.

We were honoured by the visits of both President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro respectively to appraise us of the progress being made in consolidating peace and stability including the holding of elections later this year within the context of the Ouagadougou Agreement.  The foundation was laid by President Mbeki.

With regards to Burundi, efforts to bring the last rebel group – the Paliphehutu FNL – into the process are continuing.  We are firm that the Paliphehutu-FNL must join the peace process and return to Burundi if they are to retain legitimacy.

Following the recent AU mandated military operation on the island of An’joun, it has now been decreed that elections on the island will be held on the 15th June 2008. (Emuva kokungena kwamabutho eAU eComoros kumenyezelwe ukuthi kuzoba nokhetho ngo June kulonyaka.)

After reviewing the situation in Zimbabwe, the SADC Extraordinary Summit held in Lusaka in April this year reaffirmed its support for the facilitation process being undertaken by President Mbeki.  With the Presidential results having been released, we look forward to a peaceful presidential run-off.  In this regard, we congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for the peaceful manner in which the harmonised elections were conducted.  We call on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence that could undermine the credibility of the forthcoming run-off election.  We are also concerned about the economic situation and renew our commitment to work within the framework of SADC to contribute towards the socio-economic development following the formation of a new government.  Judging from the results, clearly the Zimbabwean electorate want the leadership of the country to work together for the reconstruction and development of their country.

During the first decade of our democratic transformation, we had to establish anew our bilateral and multilateral relations in order to take our rightful place in the international community.  We prioritised economic diplomacy and played a pioneering role in establishing South-South institutions like the India-Brazil-South Africa Forum (IBSA), New Africa – Asia Strategic Partnership (NAASP) and others.

We operate in an ever-changing environment with the re-emergence of China, Russia, India and Brazil.  We begin to see the outline of a multi-polar world.  It is therefore important that Africa and South Africa strengthen and consolidate relations with these countries.

Having been integrated into the international organisations, we have endeavoured to honour our international obligations and to participate actively in most activities.

Given our history and the increase of racism in the world we hosted and presided against the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) in 2001.  The Declaration enjoins member states to implement the Programme of Action.  Seven years later, the UN General Assembly has passed Resolution 61/39 for the convening of the Review Conference which will be held in 2009.

Naturally we express our serious reservations at calls for a boycott of this Conference which can only subtract from global efforts to eradicate racism and xenophobia.  Those of us who were victims of centuries of racism in our country, correctly, must express our serious concerns at the global rise of racism and xenophobia including recent developments in our own country.  All of us have the responsibility to help devise strategies to uproot racism, xenophobia and other related intolerance in our midst.

In 2002 we hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) which was also the 10th year of review of the Rio Summit of (1992).  The Rio Summit established the administrative and monitoring mechanism within the United Nations called the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD).  It meets annually to review progress on the implementation of the outcomes of the Rio and Johannesburg Summits.  This Commission is currently meeting in New York in which Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe is participating.  She is therefore unable to be present here with us today.

South Africa has indeed entered its second and final year as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.  Our country will continue to be guided by principles rather than expediency, and at times, speak truth to power in the maintenance of global peace and security.

Correctly, we stated our objective in the UN Security Council as the need to advance the interests of Africa in particular and the South in general in the maintenance of global peace and security.  Accordingly, we utilised our Presidency in the Security Council in March 2007 to explore the relationship between the UN Security Council and regional organisations and the AU in particular in the maintenance of global peace and security in line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.  In April this year, during our Presidency of the Council we built upon the theme we introduced in 2007.  We adopted this approach in an effort to consolidate complementary themes relevant to Africa that are explored in the Security Council, while linking the topic of co-operation between the UN and the African Union to the issue of conflict resolution in the continent.

In pursuance of this objective, President Thabo Mbeki hosted a debate of the Summit of the UN Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council in which it was agreed that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will appoint an AU-UN panel of distinguished personalities to formulate proposals on how support to regional organisations in general and the African Union in particular can be provided in a concrete way, with a view to ensuring sustainability.

Again in April we convened a joint meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council at Ambassadorial level on how best to maximise the relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council to further co-operate in the fields of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and conflict management.

As part of our ongoing international work, we certainly will, together with the general membership of the UN, remain seized with processes aimed at the reform of the General Assembly, the UN Security Council and management.

As part of our international obligations, the country will next month host the visit of the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Director (CTED) aimed at determining South Africa’s ability to deal with threats associated with global terrorism.  Our country stands ready to co-operate to the fullest extent with this Directorate, certain that measures we have thus far implemented, are appropriate in our circumstances.  We welcome constructive engagement on this matter.

South Africa has together with the general membership of the UN played a major role, as part of the process of reform of the UN, in the establishment of the Human Rights Council charged with the responsibility of pursuing the observance and respect for human rights globally.  We are of the firm view that none but this Council bears the primary responsibility for dealing with global human rights violations.  Accordingly, during the month of April, we subjected our country to an external examination under the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Mechanism.  We express confidence that in its final report on our country, the Human Rights Council will indeed assist us in further strengthening our ability to stay the course in our chosen path of putting protection, promotion and advancement of Human Rights at the centre of our democratic state.

Madame Speaker

We have engaged correctly so with other countries of the South in favour of a more equitable global financial architecture responsive to the need of the developing world and thus to push back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment.  In this regard, we have further helped launch the Doha Development Round with a particular focus on advancing a global developmental agenda.

We were honoured to have chaired the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on the eve of a new century which provided the Movement with an opportunity to reflect on the many challenges facing developing countries.  In this regard, we had the primary responsibility of promoting the sanctity of the UN Charter through outright condemnation of unilateralism.  In this capacity, it was incumbent upon our country to help develop a cohesive political approach to the achievement of a number of developmental issues.  This year in July 27-30, we will be participating in the NAM Ministerial meeting in Iran to review the implementation by the Movement of the decisions we took during the Summit of NAM held in Havana, Cuba in 2006.

Madame Speaker

Democratic South Africa also took its rightful place as the designated member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and had the honour to preside over its 50th anniversary conferences in 2006.  Through various programmes we have promoted closed co-operation between African members and the Agency.  The 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference also decided to extend the NPT indefinitely on the basis of South Africa’s proposal submitted by the late Minister Alfred Nzo.

On the Board of Governors, we have been actively involved in discussing issues ranging from technical co-operation to benefit developing countries as well as nuclear concerns relating the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

To further concretise South-South relations we have been privileged to play a role in the formation of both the Forum for China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) in 2000 and more recently the Africa-India Forum launched in New Delhi in April this year.  These Fora agreed to enhance co-operation in the economic, political, science, technology, research and development, social development and capacity building, tourism, infrastructure, energy and environment, media and communication fields.

We, together with Indonesia, were instrumental in the launch of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) in Bandung in 2005 on the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference which cemented Afro-Asian solidarity.  NAASP, in the spirit of Bandung, represents a commitment by Heads of State and Government to help build closer economic ties between Africa and Asia.

South Africa initiated the establishment of the India – Brazil and South Africa Forum (IBSA) which was launched in 2003.  These are three established democracies with cultural diversity from three different continents.

As part of preparations for this Summit, we ourselves hosted this past weekend the IBSA Ministerial meeting in Cape Town.  Coinciding with this IBSA Ministerial meeting was the first ever joint naval exercise in Cape Town by IBSA Navies.

President Thabo Mbeki will in October this year participate in the 3rd IBSA Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for New Delhi, India.  The Summit will take place under the theme, “Integrated Poverty Alleviation Strategy for IBSA.”

Madame Speaker, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China.  We have organised a series of events in China beginning in April to celebrate the establishment of these diplomatic relations.  Equally, the People’s Republic of China has also organised a series of events in South Africa marking the 10th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.

At the centre of our approach to these celebrations is the need to forge a strategic Partnership for Development with China ensuring export of our high-value added products and attracting investments.  As part of the celebrations, President Mbeki will pay a State Visit to China towards the end of 2008.  To sustain our marketing drive into China, we are finalising arrangements to participate in the Shanghai World Expo scheduled for 2010.

We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate China for having taken the step to initiate discussions with the Dalai Lama group in Tibet.  Whilst supporting China’s territorial integrity, we wish them success in these disussions.

Young South African athletes will indeed be participating in the Beijing Olympic Games scheduled for later this year.  Accordingly we express our fervent hope that they, like their counterparts from the Springbok and other sporting codes, will indeed represent us with honour and distinction by winning gold medals and thus bring glory to our country.  In this context the government and people of our country extend their best wishes to the government and people China and wish them success in hosting these Games.

In August this year, we will have the pleasure to host the SADC Summit.  In this regard, our country will have the honour and privilege to Chair SADC once more for a year.  The process of integration will enter new heights with the launch of the Free Trade Agreement.  South Africa commits itself to serving and promoting the interest of SADC and its people and regional integration.

This historic event will indeed by the first Summit of the African, Caribbean, Latin American leaders and the Diaspora.  Accordingly it is expected to lay the basis for the Diaspora to play a pivotal role in the renewal of Africa while simultaneously cementing African-Caribbean-Latin American solidarity and co-operation.

South Africa was honoured to host the Pan-African Women’s Conference (PAWO).  The mobilisation of women of the continent for their emancipation if paramount.  The revival of this organisation will add momentum to the women’s struggle.

Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad will provide you with the details on South Africa’s engagement in the Middle East so I will not engage the matter here.

Madame Speaker and honourable members

Since 2001, South Africa has correctly been at the forefront of advancing the interests of our continent through building strategic partnerships with countries of the North including the G8 industrialised nations of the world. In addition, our country participated with other Outreach partners in strategic engagements with the G8 within the framework of advancing North-South relations.

Later this year, Japan will assume the Presidency of the G8 and we look forward to working with our outreach partners in advancing Africa’s agenda as well as the developmental agenda of the South whilst ensuring that annual NEPAD consultations with the G8 are indeed mutually beneficial.  

We have developed co-operation with countries of the North with a view to supporting post-conflict reconstruction and development programmes on the continent, strengthening safety and security sector, to ensure improved terms of trade and market access and to improve the productive capacity of the continent.

Later this month, we will participate in TICAD IV in Yokohama having been part of Ministerial Preparatory meeting in Gabon in March this year. This Forum will focus on trade, development and poverty alleviation between Africa and Japan.

South Africa has now become one of the USA's leading trading partners in Africa, with total trade increasing steadily in recent years. Foreign Direct Investment from the USA continues to grow significantly. We have also seen exponential growth in trade and investments with Canada.   

South Africa has always emphasised the need to consolidate economic diplomacy in its engagement with Europe to advance our foreign policy. In this regard, high-level visits and bilateral mechanisms were utilised to strengthen political co-operation as well as economic ties.    

South Africa participated in the EU-Africa Summit of 2007.  The current challenge for us remains the need to monitor the implementation of the Joint Implementation Strategy of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership as endorsed by the Lisbon Summit.

We have further witnessed the finalisation of the revision of the Trade Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA), the launch of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and significant commitments by EU countries to support Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) and Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA).

The EU and its Member States have emerged as the largest contributors to Overseas Development Agency (ODA) in South Africa and on the continent in general.

As we know, South Africa’s engagement with the European Union is legally regulated through the TDCA.  In 2005, we commenced a review of this instrument.  That process is nearly complete and will be presented during the envisaged Summit with the EU on 25 July this year.

During this review process South Africa proposed to lift out the trade chapter and review it within the context of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations.  This we did correctly guided by our own interest to promote greater convergence in the trade regime amongst the countries of our region.  After a long delay the EU agreed to this approach. 

Regrettably the impact of these EPA negotiations have tended to subvert our efforts towards regional integration.  Not only have SADC countries been parcelled into different EPAs.  Consequently, in December last year we saw deep cleavages appearing even among the SACU members.  South Africa, Angola and to some extent Namibia are raising concerns on account of both the imbalance in the exchange of concessions and on the negative implications for regional integration contained within the interim EPAs.

We remain of the firm view that we should continue to do everything we can to ensure our region indeed acts in a manner consistent with imperatives to advance regional integration.  In this context we appeal to our partners in the EU, to respect this especially as they know from their own experience, how critical this is, to enable our countries to grow their economies and benefit from the unstoppable force of globalisation.

South Africa has actively been engaged in efforts to consolidate and expand its political, economic and trade ties with Central and Eastern Europe given the historic role that those countries had played in the struggle against apartheid.

 In 1999 jointly with the peoples of the Russian Federation, the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) was established to promote and facilitate trade and economic co-operation between the two countries in various sectors including scientific and technological collaboration, mining and investment co-operation. This month will once more see us visiting Russia within the context of ITEC to consolidate our political, trade and economic relations

Madame Speaker

The issues of climate change have taken the centre stage in many international fora.  The devastating effect of the cyclone in Myanmar which left over 20000 people dead is a painful reminder of the reality of climate change.  Accordingly, we join the international community in extending our sincere condolences to the people of Myanmar and will support international efforts for humanitarian relief.

At the same time we convey our deepest condolences to the government and people of China following the earthquake in Sichuan province on Monday 12 May 2008 in which thousands have been killed with many more thousands being displaced and left homeless.

The current food crisis is testimony to the fact that in order to preserve the environment we need to ensure food and energy security.

It is our view that the developed world has a greater responsibility to deal with climate change since they are major emitters as well as having greater resources at their disposal. Generations to come will not forgive our generation for merely paying lip service to this critical matter. Our view, correctly, remains that each generation has to bequeath unto the next, a better world than it found, with a view to balancing development while preserving a healthy environment.

The devastating effects of climate change, high food and oil prices will undermine efforts by developing countries towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

We are happy to work with the SADC countries and the rest of the continent to ensure that the 2010 FIFA World Cup is truly African experience.

Madame Speaker

May I express my deepest appreciation for the invaluable contributions of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Relations and in particular the Chair of the Committee Job Sithole, Deputy Ministers Aziz Pahad and Sue van der Merwe, Director-General Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba, senior management and staff of the Department at home and abroad, in the execution of foreign relations.

I also take this opportunity as well to express my gratitude to President Mbeki and Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka for their wise counsel. The same goes for cabinet colleagues without whose support the implementation of our foreign policy would have been much more difficult. It is my fervent wish and hope that parliament will indeed give effect to our programmes for this financial year by approving this budget vote of our Department for the financial year.

Overall, I am certain that as we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, he would agree with us that good progress has indeed been made, that whatever we did, whatever the challenges we may have faced and whatever the opportunities we explored, we were indeed motivated by none other than a burning desire to reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen confidence in the nobility of the human soul and thus sustain all our hope for a glorious life for all  and to create a better South Africa, a better Africa and better world for all who live in it!”

Yet, it is not so much the absence of setbacks in the work we do in advancing our national interests abroad, but the ability to overcome obstacles as we progress towards our ultimate goals.  

In conclusion, allow me to draw inspiration from the wise words of that hero and icon of our people, Nelson Mandela when he said: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” (Long Walk To Freedom)

I Thank You

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

13 May 2008

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